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The field for the State AA American Legion baseball tournament at Cobb Field in two weeks is just about set.

The four representatives from the Eastern Division will be led by the Billings Scarlets, the host team that needed to win only one of its last three games to get the league title.

The Scarlets should be joined by Helena, Laurel and Miles City.

Bozeman still had a mathematical chance going into Wednesday’s game with Helena, but the Bucks needed to win that and their remaining three games.

Both Laurel and Miles City hold tie-breakers over the Bucks. The biggest issue is seeding. Helena has the inside track to the No. 2 spot. Laurel is third and has the tie-breaker against Miles City.

The Western Division entrants are expected to be Missoula, Lethbridge, Great Falls Stallions and Kalispell.

Kalispell will be seeded fourth provided the Lakers hold off Medicine Hat. Kalispell (9-13) has a 11/2-game lead on the Elks (7-13) and also owns the tie-breaker.

The other seeds are up for grabs. The Stallions (15-6) tightened up the league race with a Monday sweep over Missoula (16-4). The league title may be decided when Lethbridge (14-5) visits Missoula Saturday for a doubleheader.

The State AA tournament begins with four games on Aug. 4 at Cobb Field. The State A tourney opens the same day in Belgrade.

Royals add assistantFormer Billings Royals head coach Anthony Piltz joined the team last week as an assistant coach.

Royals interim head coach Bob Emard said Piltz is “coaching first base and will be the hitting coach. He’s a very fundamentally sound hitting coach."

Piltz guided the Royals from 1994-96 and Emard said he could return next year along with assistant Stacy Uecker.

“If I’m back, they’re back," said Emard, who replaced Rusty Strickland. Strickland resigned on July 9.

Help wanted: football refsIf you want to be a football official, the time has never been better to get started.

“We always need officials," said Harold Olson, who is the state delegate from Billings. “Some weekends we don’t have enough. There’s very few weekends you wouldn’t get any games."

That’s even more true this year with the loss of three veteran officials. Bud Rausch retired and Kurt Corey and Marty Derrig both moved out of town.

Olson, who’s going into his 32nd year of officiating, said the chance for younger officials to get to the varsity level is quicker than in some other sports.

“In football, you can move pretty fast," Olson said.

The Billings pool has about 40-45 officials, according to Olson. During the season, the local group has a study club every week or sometimes every other week.

“They’re about 11/2 hours," Olson said. “We go over situations. We do some film work. We have some assigned topics. A guy might take pass interference, what it is and what it isn’t."

Officials must attend a Montana High School Association rules clinic (Aug. 17 at Will James Middle School) and take an exam in September.

"It takes about two hours, but it is open book," said Olson.

While Olson said he may not be donning the striped shirt for too many more years, officiating "gets in your blood."

Maybe that will happen with some new people this year.

Ed West can be reached at 657-1325 or ewest@billingsgazette.com

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